- What Is
- Angiogram vs Angioplasty
- Potential Side Effects
- Recovery Time
What are angiogram and angioplasty?
Angiogram and angioplasty are two procedures used to assess or treat issues with your blood vessels. Learn more about how they’re similar and where they differ, and why your doctor might recommend one or both.
What is angiogram vs angioplasty?
These procedures can work separately or together, and they are an important part of diagnostic testing and treatment for certain conditions.
An angiogram, also called an arteriogram or angiography, is a diagnostic procedure that creates pictures of your blood vessels. It takes a series of x-rays using an iodine dye — called contrast — that helps to reveal blood flow through vessels and any blockages they may have. In this minimally invasive procedure, a doctor inserts a catheter into a main artery, usually the femoral artery in your leg, so they can inject the dye.
There are several types of angiogram procedures:
- Coronary angiogram
- Aortic angiogram
- Pulmonary angiogram
- Cerebral angiogram
- Peripheral angiogram
- Renal angiogram
You might also have a CT angiogram (CTA) or an MR angiogram (MRA), which are non-invasive imaging procedures that may or may not use contrast dye. The CT scan uses radiation, while the MR scan doesn't.
An angioplasty is a procedure that opens or unblocks an affected blood vessel to improve blood flow. This less-invasive procedure is also known as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) due to the techniques used.
In angioplasty, doctors will insert a catheter into your main artery and guide it to the blockage. This catheter has a small balloon at the tip that inflates and compresses the blockage, opening your blood vessel and improving blood flow. Sometimes, doctors insert a wire-mesh stent at the same time to keep the artery from collapsing.
There are several types of angioplasty depending on the location:
- Coronary angioplasty
- Cerebral angioplasty
- Renal artery angioplasty
- PTA of the femoral artery
- Balloon pulmonary angioplasty
- Carotid artery angioplasty
You might also receive laser angioplasty, in which doctors remove the blockage using laser radiation.
What are symptoms leading to angiogram vs. angioplasty?
For your doctor to recommend an angiogram or angioplasty procedure, you would need to show certain health symptoms. These procedures are useful for a variety of medical conditions, typically those involving some type of blood flow restriction.
Here are some of the symptoms that may lead to each procedure:
- Chest pain
- Unexplained pain in jaw, neck, or arm
- Shortness of breath
- Severe headache
- Severe dizziness
- Double vision
- Have had a stroke or heart attack
- Have failed stress tests
- Have a possible blood clot or blockage
- Have a possible brain tumor
What are potential side effects of angiogram vs. angioplasty?
As with any medical procedure, having an angiogram or angioplasty poses potential side effects or risks. Make sure to weigh the risks and benefits when speaking with your doctor about your health.
Both angiogram and angioplasty have the following potential side effects:
Potential complications for both procedures include:
- Catheter may get caught on or damage a blood vessel
- Severe allergic reaction to the iodine dye
- Heart attack or stroke
- Kidney damage from the dye
- Infection at wound site or inside blood vessel
Angioplasty can have all the same possible side effects as angiogram. Additional potential complications for angioplasty include:
- Blood clot near or inside the stent
- Restenosis, or re-narrowing of your arteries
Procedure and duration of angiogram vs. angioplasty
In some ways, the procedures for angiogram and angioplasty are similar. But because they work to solve different issues with your health, there are differences, too.
When you arrive for your procedure, you will receive sedation to help you relax, along with local anesthesia to numb the incision site. The doctor will make a small incision on the outer groin region to access your femoral artery. This artery is preferred because it is easily accessible and connects to all other arteries in the body.
The doctor inserts a thin catheter made of medical-grade tubing into your artery and threads it to the area needing examination. This area might be your heart, your brain, an arm, a leg, or even your kidneys.
Next, the doctor injects iodine dye into the tubing so it emerges in the blood vessels they want to examine. Using an x-ray machine, the doctor takes a series of images showing your blood flow, heart function, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels. They remove the catheter once the procedure is complete.
Each angiogram varies in duration, depending on location and what blockages or abnormalities the doctor may discover. In general, angiograms can last as little as 15 minutes to as much as 2 hours or longer. An angiogram is usually an outpatient procedure, where you go home the same day.
For an angioplasty, your procedure begins the same as an angiogram, where you are sedated and receive local anesthesia. The vascular surgeon again makes an incision and inserts a catheter tube into your femoral artery, threading it to the site of a blockage or narrowed artery. This catheter, though, has a small balloon at its tip.
Next, the surgeon inflates the balloon, which compresses the blockage against the artery wall. After deflating the balloon, the doctor injects iodine dye to check that your blood flow has improved. Once satisfied with the improvement, the doctor removes the balloon and catheter from your artery.
Sometimes, the surgeon may insert a wire-mesh stent at the same time they inflate the balloon. They may add this step if they believe your artery is at risk of narrowing again. At the end of your procedure, they remove the balloon and catheter but leave the stent inside your artery.
Depending on the type of angioplasty, it can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours or longer. With an angioplasty, it's common for you to stay overnight in the hospital so nurses can monitor your health and make sure the procedure was successful.
Recovery time of angiogram vs. angioplasty
Recovery will begin right after both procedures, though with an angioplasty, you’ll likely stay in the hospital a bit longer.
After an angiogram, you may feel soreness at the incision site for one to two days. You may also have a bruise that lasts for one to two weeks. Your doctor will recommend that you avoid strenuous activity for at least a week and limit yourself to light activity for the first few days.
After an angioplasty, you will be discharged from the hospital 12 to 24 hours after your procedure, as long as you are responding well to the treatment. You may experience some normal soreness and bruising. Your doctor will recommend that you avoid strenuous activity for about a week.
Recovery times vary from person to person. If you experience any serious side effects or complications, contact your doctor or call 9-1-1.
- Scans Show Brain Changes in People With Long COVID
- Got GERD? Eat This Way to Help Avoid Symptoms
- 5 Women Contracted Syphilis Affecting the Eyes From the Same Asymptomatic Man
- Long COVID Now Common in U.S. Nursing Homes
- Breathing in Coal-Based Pollution Could Be Especially Deadly: Study
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Society for Vascular Surgery: "Angiogram."
Stanford Health Care: "Angioplasty."
Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology: "Laser angioplasty of peripheral arteries: basic principles, current clinical studies, and future directions."
Society for Vascular Surgery: "Angiogram and angioplasty - what you need to know."
Mayo Clinic: "Coronary angioplasty and stents."
National Health Service: "Risks - Angiography."
Alberta Health Services: "Angiogram: What to Expect at Home."
Alberta Health Services: "Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: What to Expect at Home."
Top Difference Between Angiogram and Angioplasty Related Articles
Angina: Signs, Symptoms, and What It Feels LikeAngina is chest pain due to inadequate blood supply to the heart. Angina symptoms may include chest tightness, burning, squeezing, and aching. Coronary artery disease is the main cause of angina but there are other causes. Angina is diagnosed by taking the patient's medical history and performing tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), blood test, stress test, echocardiogram, cardiac CT scan, and heart catheterization. Treatment of angina usually includes lifestyle modification, medication, and sometimes, surgery. The risk of angina can be reduced by following a heart healthy lifestyle.
Balloon Angioplasty PictureCoronary angioplasty is accomplished using a balloon-tipped catheter inserted through an artery in the groin or arm to enlarge a narrowing in a coronary artery. See a picture of Balloon Angioplasty and learn more about the health topic.
What Is a Coronary Angiogram?Coronary angiogram is an angiogram (an X-ray image of blood vessels filled with contrast material) used to diagnose coronary artery disease responsible for heart attacks, strokes, angina, and other coronary artery diseases. Coronary angiogram assists the physician in diagnosing and recommending treatment for coronary artery disease.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)Balloon angioplasty of the coronary artery and stents (percutaneous coronary intervention, PCI) is a nonsurgical procedure that relieves narrowing and obstruction of the arteries to the muscle of the heart. PCI can relieve chest pain (angina), minimize or stop a heart attack, or improve the prognosis of patients with unstable angina. The availability of stainless steel stents has expanded the spectrum of patients suitable for PCI.
CT Coronary AngiogramThe CT coronary angiogram procedure is a noninvasive test of the heart. The procedure uses an intravenous dye and CT scanning to image the coronary arteries. CT coronary angiogram is a major tool in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.
Heart Disease: Warning Signs of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history
Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
Heart Disease in WomenHeart disease in women has somewhat different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment compared to heart disease in men. Many women and health professionals are not aware of the risk factors for heart disease in women and may delay diagnosis and treatment. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, tobacco use, overweight/obesity, stress, alcohol consumption, and depression influence heart disease risk in women. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes also increase women's risk of heart disease. Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), stress-ECG, endothelial testing, ankle-brachial index (ABI), echocardiogram, nuclear imaging, electron beam CT, and lab tests to assess blood lipids and biomarkers of inflammation are used to diagnose heart disease. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women saves lives. Heart disease can be prevented and reversed with lifestyle changes.
CAD SlideshowWhat is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease, arrhythmias and myopathy. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain and shortness of breath. Explore heart disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Heart Disease QuizTake our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes, symptoms, treatments, testing, and procedures for medically broken hearts.
Heart Disease Treatment in WomenHeart disease treatment in women should take into account female-specific guidelines that were developed by the American Heart Association. Risk factors and symptoms of heart disease in women differ from those in men. Treatment may include lifestyle modification (diet, exercise, weight management, smoking cessation, stress reduction), medications, percutaneous intervention procedure (PCI), and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Heart disease is reversible with treatment.
Intravenous CholangiogramAn intravenous cholangiogram (IVC) is an X-ray procedure that looks at the larger bile ducts within the liver and the bile ducts outside the liver. IVC can locate gallstones or find biliary obstructions. Risks of IVC include allergic reactions.